Add Carabao’s songwriting and the Buddhist concept of “yonisomanasikara” (proper attention)

Note: I recently wrote an article about “Humanism in the Add Carabao Songs,” however, I was well aware at the time that I was interpreting the subject through the lens of my own culture. To understand Add Carabao (Yuenyong Opakul)’s songwriting on it’s own terms, one must start from Add’s repeated statements that the songs are strongly influenced by Buddhism. And now I recognize that the Buddhist concept of yonisomanasikāra (proper attention), in particular, which he mentions in this interview, is key to understanding his body of work. I’m documenting this as a lead for any English-language musicologists studying the work of this singer/songwriter.

Rough translation:

Add Carabao: People who don’t have suffering, maybe they don’t understand about Dharmic Truth. But whenever suffering arises, you have to entrust yourself [to someone/something] to help you. As for the help, some people go to the temple and make merit and think that will have good results for them….[I] didn’t entrust myself to god, I entrusted myself to myself. I must practice myself.*

Bom Sincharoen: That’s probably a good way to think about it.

Add: You have to rely on your own practice.

Bom: Does it get good results?

Add: In the beginning when I started to meditate, it was boring. But after that I found the branch of Luang Pa Tian (a monk). I thought, this makes sense/seems right. I did it all the time, every day.

Bom: Does your study help you compose songs?

Add: When I was studying Dharma it helped me add another branch of substance to my songs. When I was composing songs, for many, many songs, knowledge of this subject came and helped me throughout all my songs. In the period after that there were matters that arose where Dharma was relevant, to some extent. And that was a benefit. For songwriters, the thing you can’t skip is to read, search, find new information. Write it down and try to practice and see. Because there is no fixed formula when it comes to songwriting. And after you have the information, you must use yonisomanasikāra [proper attention].*

Bom: Yyonisomanasikāra [proper attention].*

Add: People generally know it well. The act of thinking cleverly, what would be good to go on and do? What would be best to do? And put your hand to doing it for real.

*”To do good things (and relieve oneself from suffering) depends on oneself and not “God” who does not necessarily even exist in the Buddhist way of thinking. Buddha is not a God but a teacher. That you must find the way yourself, is a main principle of Buddhism.
**See the article “The Concept of Yonisomanasikāra ‘Proper Attention’ as a Buddhist Way to Social Peace” as I believe this Bhuddist concept yonisomanasikāra is key to Add’s thought process in many, many songs.